Back to School Shopping 2012 – Trends to Watch

It’s that time of the year again… A recent study conducted by BIGinsight for the National Retail Federation sheds some light on the upcoming “back-to-school” shopping season. Which, according to the survey, has already started (hope you’re prepared!). The survey finds that close to a third of online back-to-school shoppers have already started this annual shopping ritual, and another half will start within the next few weeks.

Back to School

Back-to-school shopping has changed drastically over the years – mainly due to the steady growth of eCommerce. The number of consumers shopping online for some part of back-to-school has almost doubled in the last five years. This year, 2 out of every 5 back-to-school shoppers will shop via some form of eCommerce.

Online back-to-school shoppers expect to spend 27% more than all other back-to-school shoppers this year. Tweet this stat!

So what are the hot trends to watch for this year? Read on to find out…

Online shopping will be HOT. Due to economic concerns, many shoppers will turn to eCommerce as a means to save money. Many consumers perceive online shopping as a way of both shopping smarter and getting more bang for their buck. Research has found that half of online back-to-school shoppers expect to do more comparative shopping online (compared to only one-third of all back-to-school shoppers), and therefore save more money. 2 out of 5 shoppers this year plan to make better use of coupons (44.7%), and also buy more generic products (42.7%).

Online Shopping

Bottome line:  Online back-to-school shoppers are going to be looking for the best prices and deals. Retailers who convey strong value, showcase special offers and what’s on sale, and provide easy ways for customers to compare prices across all of their sales channels will attract the most of these online bargain shoppers.

Having a multichannel strategy will be key. As you probably already know, brand consistency across channels and devices is a must for reaching the omnichannel shopper. Back-to-school shoppers will be looking to buy from retailers interchangeably across all customer touch points (web, mobile, social, brick & mortar, etc). In order to fully meet customer expectations, try offering cross-channel processes such as “in-store pick-up” and “cross-channel returns and exchanges” that provide extra convenience for the customer. In the same sense, customers will also expect online services and product information to be consistent across all channels.

Not only will shoppers use multiple sales channels, but they will also use multiple devices as well. Over half of smartphone owners will use their mobile device to compare prices and research products, while a third will use them to look up retailer information, redeem coupons, and buy products. Smartphones won’t be the only mobile devices used – tablet owners will use their devices in the same manner, though closer to half plan to actually buy products using their tablet.

Bottom line:  Make sure your brand messaging and product information is represented consistently across multiple sales channels. Back-to-school shoppers (and other shoppers in general) expect a completely multichannel shopping experience.

Do you have anything to share? Leave a comment below or join our Linkedin Group to start a discussion!

If you’re interested in seeing the full survey, click here.

Product information management enables multichannel success. Find out how.